Recipe co-developed by Mehreen Karim.
Makes 12 rolls.
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 packet or 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast
2 eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup butter, melted
½ tsp kosher salt
⅓ cup sugar
⅛ tsp nutmeg
4 – 4 ½ cups of all purpose flour
2 cups pitted dates, chopped into small pieces
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp cinnamon, optional but highly recommended
¼ cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese
4 oz sweetened condensed milk
Toasted shredded coconut
- Whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter, yeast, sugar, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add 4 cups of flour and mix to incorporate. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead by hand for about 5 minutes or until smooth, using additional flour (up to ½ cup) as needed to form a smooth ball. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, place the dates in a shallow bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let sit for at least 20 minutes. Once the dates have hydrated and softened, using a fork, mix and mash them until a smooth paste is formed. Depending on the type of dates being used and how long you soak them, you may need to blitz the dates in a blender or food processor to achieve a paste-like consistency. Then, stir in the cinnamon and heavy cream and set aside.
- Once the dough has risen, return it to the work surface and roll it into a rectangle, about a ¼ inch thick. Spread over the date mixture, roll it up starting from the long side, and use a knife or floss to cut them into 12 even rolls.
- Butter a 9×13 baking dish, arrange the rolls in the dish, cover, and let them rise again for 30 minutes. While the dough is proofing, preheat the oven to 375℉.
- Once the rolls have puffed up, bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned on the tops.
- In the meantime, prepare the frosting by whisking together the softened cream cheese and the sweetened condensed milk.
- Remove the rolls from the oven, let them cool for at least 10 minutes, then spread over the icing and sprinkle with the toasted shredded coconut and the chopped pistachios.
Notes on the Inspiration:
Dates are a historical token of every Ramadan Iftar (the meal to break fast), but let’s face it – we aren’t reaching for them otherwise. At the end of the month of Ramadan, we’re usually left with a large rubbermaid container filled with unused dates. To use up the extra stock, my mom used to make a delicious date cake flavored with cinnamon and topped with a sweetened condensed milk and coconut topping.
That was great, but these are better. They’re everything you know and love about a cinnamon roll but taken up a few notches. An ooey-gooey filling made with sticky caramel-like dates and cinnamon gets rolled up between a fluffy dough, and topped with a rich sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese glaze for the most stunning sticky cinnamon rolls.
Notes on the Technique:
Our recipe calls for instant yeast to help create a tender and fluffy dough in a pinch. Instant yeast will activate swifty and get mixed into the rest of the wet ingredients with no need for blooming.
If you only have active dry yeast, no fear! Use the same amount of yeast, but first, warm up the milk in the microwave until it’s lukewarm, add the sugar, stir and then mix the yeast into the warm milk and let it bloom for 5 minutes before mixing it into the other dough ingredients. This step is crucial to activation and ensuring the yeast is alive; if you don’t see foamy or bubbly activity at this stage, your yeast has likely died 🙁 RIP!!